Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience: A Rough Guide for the M.D.

June 20, 2015

patience posterA Word About the Piece:

These are my notes from the program of the 2015 Savoy Company Production of Patience at Longwood Gardens:

Writers who have achieved back-to-back successes are often faced with a dilemma. Is it best to continue giving the public what they have come to expect, or is it better to strike out in new directions? How far will an audience follow? Rodgers and Hammerstein followed the back to back success of Oklahoma! and Carousel with their most experimental work Allegro, which was a flop, but paved the way for their later work and the work of other writers. Verdi followed Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore, (a triple play if there ever was one), with Les vêpres siciliennes, his first opera to be written from scratch in French. He would later move it into Italian, placing it in the form we more often hear today. Puccini followed La Boheme and Tosca with Madame Butterfly, which was booed off the stage and had to be revised multiple times before it reached the successful iteration we know and love. Success can be as difficult to overcome as failure.

The Gilbert and Sullivan who wrote Patience were recovering from their first great flush of mastery, having written HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance in 1878 and 1879 respectively. Pinafore had been such an overwhelming success that dozens of productions had sprung up in America without paying the writers any royalties, so Gilbert and Sullivan premiered Pirates in the U.S. to beat the theatrical copyright ‘pirates’ to the punch. The pun on piracy was, naturally, intentional. The overwhelming success of these two masterpieces put Gilbert and Sullivan in a creative quandary. The two operettas are the culmination of their efforts in their early period, and with The Mikado, form the backbone of their popularity to this day. The Pirates of Penzance relies for much of its interest on burlesques of well known operatic forms, particularly Verdi, who is parodied throughout. Even had the authors set about to write a follow up work in exactly the same manner as their previous successes, they would have been hard pressed to create such brilliant material so consistently on point. Clearly new directions were needed.

patience poster 3In 1880, G&S collaborated on The Martyr of Antioch, an Oratorio and Sullivan premiered it at the Leeds Festival, where he had been appointed musical director. Gilbert continued to write plays. When the two finally set about writing what would become Patience, Gilbert initially wrote about clerics, expanding his Bab Ballad “The Rival Curates”. But remembering the criticism of his clergyman Dr. Daly in The Sorcerer, Gilbert soon shifted the action to a fanciful commentary on the Aesthetic Movement. In doing so, he made a subtle shift in his writing. G&S had built a name for themselves using operatic conventions to spoof English society.  Now they would attempt to build thematic unity across the entirety of an opera without making operatic parody a linchpin. The new operas wouldn’t be burlesques as much as tightly constructed commentaries on a theme. In this case the theme Gilbert settled on proved timely. Wilde, Whistler, Swinburne, and the rest of the movement had been spoofed and sent up in the papers widely, and there was enough of a vocabulary of mockery in the public mind that Gilbert could move quickly from the obvious jokes about flowers and mannerisms to funnier and ultimately more meaningful thoughts about the nature of fashion, fancy, poetry and love.There are fewer discreet numbers than in the earlier operas, and unbroken segments of music are longer and more ambitious than before, particularly the opening sequence, held together as it is by Sullivan’s shrewd musical repetitions of “Ah Misery”. Dialogue scenes are longer, funnier, and are more often between three or more characters than they had been. The new Gilbert and Sullivan would contain fewer imitations of other operas and more Duets, Trios, and ambitiously connected sequences. This is a feature of their later work, inaugurated here.patience poster 2

As it happened, Patience also demarcated another phase in the partnership: the opening of the Savoy Theater. (whence comes our name, naturally) Richard D’Oyly Carte was a canny businessman, producer, promoter and sometime composer involved from the outset in Gilbert and Sullivan’s career. He incidentally acted as agent for the lectures of Wilde and Whistler, who attended the opening night of Patience to see themselves lampooned. Carte would send Wilde on an American tour to coincide with Patience and to bring context to American audiences. D’Oyly Carte’s fortunes had risen with Gilbert’s and Sullivan’s, and he finally found himself able to consolidate his gains into a new Theater, which he named Savoy after the magnificent palace that had once stood on the site in the 14th century. But if the name was old, the theater would be state-of-the-art. It was the first theater, and the first public building to be lit wholly electrically. It was to become for G&S fans something like what the Bayreuth Festspielhaus is for the Wagnerite. (The buildings were completed within five years of each other) The Savoy Theater was a model of innovation and good practice at the time. It seated 500 more people than their previous venue, the layout afforded better sight lines across the house, and D’Oyly Carte introduced a queuing system for ticket sales that he had seen in America. 10 days before the building  opened to the public, Sullivan inspected the pit and insisted it be raised by 8 inches. It was. Patience transferred from the Opera Comique to the Savoy in October 1881, but the theatre was lit by gaslight until December 28th, by which time a more powerful generator had been installed. D’Oyly Carte was a showman, and he knew how to make an entrance. On the night they switched to electricity, he wrapped a glowing light bulb in muslin and dramatically broke it to prove that there was no chance of a fire. He then left the stage, the gas was extinguished, and the modern age of theatrical electricity was ushered in.

Gilbert and Sullivan were ushering in a modern theatrical electricity of their own.

Before You Start:

A great place to start with any G&S Operetta is the Boise State site. The page for Patience is not quite as extensive as the pages for some of the other operettas, but it’s well worth a casual browse. Unfortunately, there is no detailed list of errors, as the site includes for many of the other G&S works. I’ll write in what I can as I go.

The most commonly used edition is the Schirmer vocal score, edited by Edmond W. Rickett. It’s fine. If you get an earlier printing of the Schirmer Score, you may discover that on page 81, the accompaniment is missing on the final staff. I made a replacement for you, you can print it out and glue it into your book: Patience page 81 If you have one of the newer Hal Leonard versions, you’re good to go, the problem has been corrected.

I have a raggedy old Stoddart paperback edition, which is identical to the Chappell first edition, and is also from 1881. It’s clear that G&S were trying to keep ahead of the piracy problem, with this charming copyright notice on the title page:G&S Copyright Notice

Notice they’re appealing to the goodwill of the buyer, not their legal rights, because the legal rights aren’t all that clear. Here is a link to an interesting site about American and British Copyright law in the Victorian era. Writers then were in a similar position to the one they’re in now: “Please buy it from us. Please?”

As an edition, this old Chappell version is really a mess, but it did help clarify things when I found discrepancies between other sources, or at the very least proved that they were unclear from the very beginning. There is another, improved Chappell, but both these early Chappell editions are missing the reprises of Twenty Lovesick Maidens We, and the opening of Act II, and the Schirmer score is a great general improvement. These earlier versions are on IMSLP if you should want to print them up for reference.

I also purchased the Kalmus Full Score. The score appears to have been hand copied from a set of parts by L. L. “Woody” Norvell, and I found it quite useful in terms of getting a sense of what kind of sound I would be getting, although the thing is by no means a critical edition, and contained a number of errors. I’ll point out what I found along the way as I go. There are many typos in the dialogue in the score, but those don’t concern us.

Both the original Chappell Score and the Kalmus Full Score begin numbering again at 1 after the act break, which is annoying, but can be corrected with a pencil in a minute.


As always, the OakApple Press page laying out all the major recordings is complete and fantastic. Many of these recordings are available on Spotify, but I encourage you to buy a hard copy. There needs to be some money changing hands that ultimately gets to the people who are making these recordings available, and they’re not getting it through streaming services. Plus, think how lovely your shelf of G&S CDs or LPs will look! For my money, the 1961 D’Oyly Carte Recording is a must hear, and the 1962 Malcolm Sargent recording is just the worst.

If you’re going to be Music Directing Gilbert and Sullivan, you’ll want to begin building a library of reference materials. I recommend getting these, as you are able:

The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan by Ian Bradley. You should probably get this one ASAP.

A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan by Gayden Wren: Good stuff, especially seeing the shows in the context of the whole output. I come back to this book again and again.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Lexicon by Harry Benford: in which you will find the definitions of all those words you don’t understand.

After you have procured some of these, set aside a number of hours to do the following:

1) Listen to the soundtracks with the score in hand, marking things that strike you as interesting. I also made a pass at one point with a metronome and marked the tempi of all the sections from several recordings so that I would have a benchmark of speed. When a singer complains about a tempo, it helps to be able to check and say, “Ah, yes, we’re too slow” or: “This is within the range of generally accepted tempi.” or yet again, “I’d like to take it this fast, but currently our diction won’t allow it.” Sullivan doesn’t always notate phrasing or articulations, and while it’s easy to say, “Let’s just leave it up to the taste of the players”, it’s sometimes necessary to actually make clear decisions as a conductor so that the ensemble is telling the same musical story. I have developed a system with colored pencils, where I listen to a recording of a particular year with, say, a red pencil in hand and just mark interesting articulation, dynamic, or tempo choices for the key moments. Then I go back with a different color and enter another recording’s take on the same moments. Pretty quickly one begins to realize what is standard, what is done almost every time, and what is open to interpretation. You will also find your own preference in those places where there appears to be a wide range of opinion. To me, this is the beginning of discovering your own voice as a conductor; finding where the limits of expression have been in the past, and deciding what you are drawn to in answer to the points that are vague.

2) Take the Lexicon book and copy in pencil all the definitions into the score where you don’t already know the meanings.

As You’re Casting:

Colonel Calverley

A great patter-baritone role, not far from the Major General or John Wellington Wells. Sings the low end of a number of ensembles, and tops out on the E above middle C. As with all such roles, impeccable diction, a very strong memory, and the ability to convey bluster is important.

Major Murgatroyd

The Major is the smallest role of the three featured chorus parts, and has the more difficult harmony part to hear. The middle part in 16. is by no means easy. A nice role for a baritone you’re prepping for bigger parts.

Lieut. The Duke of Dunstable

The more difficult Tenor role in the show, goes up to the A flat several times, and has quite a bit to remember in terms of lyrics that are slightly different in repeats and somewhat confusing. Not a terribly difficult role to act, but requires a pretty good singer.

Reginald Bunthorne

The main character and all-around punching bag of the piece. Pompous and overblown, needs to be able to read the poetry in a bloated and affected way, and to sing and remember some very rapid patter. If you only have one truly wonderful patter baritone, it should probably be the Colonel. If you have 2, let Bunthorne be the man who can effect more gravitas, because that’s sillier.

Archibald Grosvenor

Grosvenor is a tenor, but not a particularly high one, and could easily be sung by a lyric baritone. I think it goes up to an F. Should have good comic timing. It helps if he’s handsome, but his lines with Patience are probably even funnier if he’s just an average looking guy. “When I Go Out Of Door” is a very difficult patter number, so you need someone who can articulate patter well and remember large chunks of it!

Mr. Bunthorne’s Solicitor

A very very small, non-speaking, non-singing role, could be given to a chorus member, or to some community celebrity who can only make 2 rehearsals.

Lady Angela

Angela is the lower member of the featured women’s chorus. She has a more matronly cast than the others, and she plays a scene with Patience in which she offers the advice gained by experience, so it would make sense to cast someone older than your Patience in the part.

Lady Saphir

Probably requires the better ear of the three featured ladies, because she sings the middle voice. Ella sings lead for most of the show, but Saphir has a lovely lead during the Quintet late in the show.

Lady Ella

Ella is the highest featured women’s chorus part. She carries the melody in the madrigal in the First Act finale, so you will need to choose a strong singer with a clear voice and good intonation.

Lady Jane

Jane is really a lovely part for the Gilbert and Sullivan Contralto. Preferably an imposing physical presence who can command the stage, she must deliver comic dialogues very well and be a nice foil for both Bunthorne and the ladies.


Your quintessential G&S Soprano, needs to have comic timing and a light, flexible instrument. We interpolated high Cs into the 2nd verse cadenzas of each of her arias. Gilbert’s Soprano leads make for an interesting type. They are not tragic heroines, nor particularly crafty as in the Italian operatic models. They also aren’t the strong, assertive type who command the stage and tell everyone what to do. They are usually a little ‘off’ from the rest of the ladies in town, but they’re generally right about the situation at hand. This makes the G&S soprano heroine a model for some of the sopranos in American musical theatre, like Sarah in Guys and Dolls or Marian in The Music Man.


The Durham Savoyards have not yet produced a set of MIDI learning parts for this show, sadly. You will want enough singers to divide your ladies two ways, and your men 4. This show is not too difficult for the chorus. With each G&S show, I like to pick out the fastest chorus passage and make it part of my warm-up. In this operetta, it’s the “Now is this not ridiculous?” passage from Schirmer pages 41-46 for the men, and “Such a judge of blue and white…” from Schirmer pages 86-87 and/or “We’re Swears and Wells young girls…” on Schirmer pages 186-187 for the ladies. patience 4

General Pronunciation Advice:

I copy here my earlier note from The Gondoliers guide, with some slight emendations.

I am still no expert on RP English pronunciation, but I offer here a couple of basic pointers, to which I intend to add as I learn more:

1) Words like “Bath” and “Chance” need to be pronounced with a tall Ah vowel.

2) Rs that begin a word are tripped or rolled. Rs that come before a vowel are tripped. Rs that come after a vowel are generally dropped. At no point is the r pronounced as we Amerrricans pronounce it.

3) Mary, Merry, and Marry employ three different vowel sounds. Where I come from, they are pronounced identically. In Philadelphia, they are pronounced as three different vowels, but they aren’t the same vowels. Interesting chart on this matter:http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_15.html In G&S, you’ll want to say Mary with an eh as in air, Merry with eh as in get, and Marry with an ah as in cat. (someone will certainly correct me on this)

4) Many u vowels will need a y sound before them: duty becomes dyewtee, tuning becomes tyooning, new becomes nyoo, and institution becomes instityooshun.

5) Been becomes bean.

6) For words which in American English replace ‘t’s with a d sound, a true ‘t’ sound should be used. “Water” is not pronounced “wadder”, and certainly not wooder, my Philadelphia friends.

This video may be of use to you.

That is by no means exhaustive, and I’ve probably gotten some of it wrong, but that’ll get you started.

Going through the show number by number:


Sullivan didn’t write most of his overtures; assistants assembled many of them from the best tunes of the opera, in the manner made popular by Offenbach. Before you get cranky about that, you might note that this is the way Broadway overtures have been assembled with very few exceptions since time immemorial, and that this particular overture was assembled by a very fine composer in his own right, Eugen D’Albert. D’Albert was at the time a pupil of Sullivan’s, but his time studying with the greatest musicians in Britain was unsatisfactory to him, and he would ultimately emigrate to Germany, where he studied with Liszt and built a career as a concert pianist and composer in many different genres. Here’s the kind of thing he would write on his own later. The overture is a delight to conduct, with many subtle details and two tricky spots. (they were tricky for me at any rate) The first trouble spot is the transition from the opening Moderato to the Allegro Vivace. It lies on the cusp of wanting to be beat in 2 and in 4. I wound up choosing to conduct it in 2, with a little subdivision at first to make the tempo clear. I found the clearest way to make the transition was to treat the measure before as a kind of fermata, then to give the upbeat out of that measure with a subdivided 2 so that the violins could know the length of the 8th right away. They were fine, but I needed to practice that several times. It’s somewhat tricky to hear that new tempo in your head as you’re in the old one. The other trouble spot comes right before letter B. When it appears in the show proper, this melody is in 2, and there’s a peculiar 1 measure extension leading into the chorus, (here appearing at letter B) making a very fun and unusual 9 measure phrase. In the Overture version of this tune, it has been moved into 4/4 time, and to avoid the chorus tune coming in midway through the measure, an extra half measure of the expectant dotted rhythm has been inserted. When one has become accustomed to the other version, this entrance feels very odd at first, and you may find it tricky to cue the tune. Go To Him Overture Comparison

When you have figured that out, be careful not to overcue that new section, because Sullivan’s tune here has a dynamic drop to pp, leading to a lovely mini-Rossini crescendo. D’Albert’s miniature development of this passage at the 8th bar of B is very Mozartean or early Beethovenian to my ear, and also recalls Bach’s motet Fürchte Dich Nicht, Ich Bin Bei Dir.patience overture exampleThe soaring melody from the Act I finale appears beautifully at the third measure of C. Be sure your strings are giving a strictly accurate accompaniment rhythmically. The 10th measure of E should be a very crisp staccato piano sound in the clarinets and bassoons, even though it isn’t marked. (or wasn’t in my score anyway) Those 3 measures are a welcome little break before the build into the big finish. 5 from the end, my score is marked subito piano on the and of 1, with a crescendo to the downbeat of the third measure from the end. It’s a terrific moment, and it wasn’t in our parts. A little allargando isn’t unwarranted as you come to the final chords.Rapturous_Maidens,_1919_Patience,_Gilbert_Sullivan

1. Twenty Lovesick Maidens We

In Trial By Jury and The Sorcerer, Gilbert and Sullivan had started the proceedings with the full Chorus. In Pinafore they realized that separating the genders at first made for a more dramatic story. In Pirates they heightened the characterization of the chorus, giving them real opinions and personalities. This is the first G&S opening to introduce the women first, and it changes the whole outlook of the show! These characters are going to be seen through the perspective of the women, not the men, who we shall see are left bewildered and perplexed.

Much has been made elsewhere of Sullivan’s unifying use of the “Ah Miserie!” motive to connect the first half hour of the operetta. It’s one of the things that makes this operetta a step forward for G&S; the opening is structured much more carefully than the openings of their previous work. I have made a little chart of some of the more obvious iterations of the miserie motive, and you’ll see that although it’s not exactly Wagnerian in its development, Sullivan has a fairly fluid conception of the little cell of notes. It works very well in the horn at the outset, well enough that one wonders if D’Albert had been made aware of it as he was constructing the overture. Those exposed horn lines in the overture could have easily accommodated this motive somewhere. But I digress. Notice how sometimes the motive is a whole step, sometimes the more expressive half step, sometimes leaping a third, sometimes repeating the same note. Rhythmically, there is also a broad diversity. Sometimes the figure begins on the downbeat, sometimes on the upbeat. Sometimes the dotted rhythm happens at the eighth note level, sometimes at the quarter, sometimes at the half, sometimes it’s eliminated entirely, as in the last example I notated. Miserie MotiveNow to the matter of musically directing the opening number: My personal priority is clean entrances and cutoffs. Drill them in from the beginning, exactly as they appear in the score, and come to the first rehearsal prepared with some idea of where you would like the young ladies to breathe. At letter C, you may find you need to make very clear the A flat and G flat in the phrase. This flavor is new at that moment. Ella has a potentially tricky line in the 7th measure of D (measure 76) That Bb clashes somewhat with the B natural in the bass. (it’s not an error, though)Tell the accompanist to include the melody in the right hand of the accompaniment from 74-77. (Go foolish heart, go dream of love requited) It’s actually in the orchestra, played by the flute. If you’re using the Kalmus Full Score, it’s missing beams in the flute eighth notes in the 5th and 7th measures of B. One further point: this number has a tendency to drag. Malcolm Sargent’s recording is a case in point. I can actually feel myself getting older as I listen to the opening chorus. This isn’t Mahler, people. It’s the opening of a very funny operetta!

As for the orchestra, there is a great deal of subtlety to pull out of that opening passage, but again, don’t let it get too thick and slow. Give a very distinct beat at letter B so the winds can get a good ensemble in the accompaniment figure. There was an error both in my score and in the parts in violin 2 in the 6th measure of E. The last eighth must be an E flat to match the harmony. The last three measures in the violin may not be in tune the first time you play them. You may want to drill those a few times under tempo to get clarity there, especially since it happens several times.

2. Still Brooding On Their Mad Infatuation/I Cannot Tell What This Love May Be

Sullivan’s introduction of the melody of Patience’s aria at her first entrance is another example of the great pains Sullivan took to unify the opening sequence. Note the augmentation of the dotted rhythm in the last measure of the opening section. I kept thinking it was another dotted eighth-sixteenth figure, but it’s dotted quarter-eighth. I think it’s a witty touch that Sullivan assigns the sopranos the idea that it’s marvelous Patience has never loved, and the altos the idea that it’s deplorable. I started to type why I thought that was funny and then thought better of it. 🙂

Patience’s aria here is one of Sullivan’s most delightful confections, and one senses he has found a really English voice here. Poor Wandering One is a masterpiece, to be sure, but it had a direct quote from Verdi’s Sempre Libera, and the ah ha ha ha coloratura at the end was pure Offenbach. Here, although it’s still in the trademark 6/8 time of innumerable soubrette numbers of this period, the melodic details and phrasing sound like pure Sullivan to me.

My full score had the a tempo marking right at rehearsal B and D, but the piano vocal has it a measure later. I think starting the a tempo directly at B and D is a wise choice, because it allows you more than a full measure of prep before the pickup to the new tempo. Note that the lilt of the 6/8 aims to the word blithe, not the word I. The other conception is a little flat-footed by comparison. For the sake of playability, the piano vocal score has a descending arpeggio of 16ths in measure 35, but the orchestration has a truly delightful ascending flourish in the clarinets and flutes that is a masterful detail. Make sure your orchestra plays that figure leggiero, it’s only a garnish, after all.  Be sure your chorus of Lovesick Maidens has a short eighth note at the end of their phrases, and have a plan on how to release the fermata and get things moving again in your beat pattern before the ritornello comes back at the end of each chorus. There is a standard cadenza the second time through that’s listed in ossia notes in the Schirmer Score, but not in the Chappell version I have nor the Kalmus full score.

2a. Twenty Lovesick Maidens We

Exactly the same as before, down to the incorrect last note of measure 2 in the 2nd violins (should be an E flat) The Chappell version doesn’t even have this number, I assume because it’s identical to the earlier version, and they were trying to rush the thing to press to beat the knock-off publishers to the punch. I forgot to mention earlier something the piano score does for the sake of playability that isn’t quite accurate. The running sixteenths in the right hand actually continue in measures 7-9, but the countermelody in eighths in the winds rightfully predominates. The piano part keeps the forward motion in the music by converting the idea into a left hand figure, with different notes, but the same general contour. It’s just something to be aware of whenever this passage comes around. Your ladies will likely be leaving the stage at the end of this number, which is a good reason to tell them not to slow down for the 4th measure from the end, since they probably won’t see your cue. It’s begging to slow down, but the interrupted orchestra is enough new information for the audience without letting the proceedings slow to a halt there. Put the rit. 2 measures from the end.Patience 1902 so590004

3. The Soldiers of our Queen

None of this melodic material is articulated in the accompaniment or in the orchestral parts, in terms of slurring or staccato/legato. I listened to a number of recordings and heard a few different historically acceptable approaches. If you aren’t willing to decide what gets a slur and what gets a staccato mark, I do feel that a general clipped eighth note articulation all around is an acceptable solution, but I don’t think you should just leave it up to the players.

There’s something about the mens chorus part here in this first appearance that makes them want to close to the ‘N’ consonant too early, particularly in “U-ponnnnnn the battle scene”, and “The Ennnnnn-emy of one…” but also elsewhere. Remind them to sing on the vowels, not the consonants, and make 4 bar phrases out of it. Don’t breathe between “Queen” and “Are” or “Scene” and “They“, etc. The repeated “Yes!” later needs to be as short as possible, with very little ‘s’. If your orchestra ensemble is good, you should hear everyone but the violins and flute playing very short chords, and the goal is to make that chorus “yes” last no longer than the sound of the snare hits that happen simultaneously.

In the body of the patter song itself, there are two customary pauses not indicated in the score. The first is right before E, both verses, between ‘trepan‘ and ‘The‘, and between ‘ban‘ and ‘A‘. The second comes 8 measures later, again in both verses, between ‘Man‘ and ‘The‘, and between ‘divan‘ and ‘The‘ If your orchestra knows those pauses are coming, they are quite easy to cue. Enjoy the little snaky chromatic bassline that comes in at letter F. How marvelous it is!

When the chorus comes back in, you might decide to leave out the lowest bass part at G, until the 6th measure of G when it goes up to a C. Unless your chorus is individually miked, you will find it very difficult to hear them. If you leave gentlemen down there, make sure they’re singing with a bright tone, it’s easy for amateur singers to let the focus disappear at the bottom of the range.

At the Colonel’s final phrase, there is often a slight relaxing of the tempo, which is fine, but requires a strong hand at the baton to cue the orchestra hits and bring the chorus back in.

4. In A Doleful Train

Most G&S Operettas have at least one  potential train wreck. Normally this happens when part of the group is singing something fast, the other something slow, and the tempos slip apart from one another. This first such potential train wreck is a doleful one. More on that later.

As always, clarify where breaths are to occur for the ladies, and make clear where each phrase is to end.

The gentlemen have a very fast patter here, and your tempo should never be faster than they can consistently execute while remaining absolutely together. Be very clear about the pitches at “all prefer this melancholy literary man” before B, and “Instead of slyly peering at us…” at B. ‘Close Enough’ isn’t. When your orchestra arrives, tell your clarinets to bring out their part and keep a crisp staccato at all times. They ground the vocal part.

Be clear about the tuning of the G flat 2 measures before rehearsal E.

At F and H, you may have trouble getting the gents to come in in tempo. You have two choices here: 1) Drill it and insist they come in immediately and in strict tempo from the preceding. 2) Allow them the pause they will probably want to insert and instead turn your direction to the orchestra to change the tempo for their chords there.

The octaves 4 before J in the Chorus are tricky. Counsel your men to find a mid-level vocal placement and not to reach up for the high notes nor down for the low notes but imagine them all to be in the same location.

After J itself is the trouble spot I was mentioning earlier. The women’s part is similar, but not identical to the earlier version of this tune. At first in rehearsals, you should give most of your attention to the gentlemen, and work for that clear, crisp diction and rhythmic accuracy. Pay particular attention to the third measure of L. That descending arpeggio is rather a mine-field of intonation problems. At some point in your rehearsals, you will achieve a sort of ‘terminal velocity’ for the men, at which point you will want to turn your attention to the ladies, and be sure they are watching you, especially a few measures after letter K, where their part will want to rush, just as the gentlemen will want to slow down because their part gets more difficult. Adjust your beat to find the men, who have much less control over their speed, and compel the women to stay with you. Your beat should be clear, with very little bounce, and the downbeat straight down the middle. It is possible to get this moment fairly foolproof, but only with intention. Again the clarinets are a great help in grounding the men’s part, and you will miss them at the end of the first act, when this whole edifice appears again only in an more complicated guise. At that point no member of the orchestra doubles the gentlemen. “Alack a-day” indeed.

4a. Twenty Lovesick Maidens We

No new info here, except that for once, measure 2 is correct in my full score for the second violins!

5. When I First Put This Uniform On

This is the second of the Colonel’s patter numbers, and it closes the opening swath of the opera with a bang. Again, Sullivan has not bothered to articulate the opening figure, but short sixteenths and eighths do appear to be in order. The number is very straightforward, but there is a puzzling detail I never resolved to my own satisfaction: In the measure before the first ending, both editions of the vocal score and the orchestral parts have a sixteenth, sixteenth, eighth pattern to the melody in the accompaniment, while the vocal part has eighth, sixteenth, sixteenth. This is also the way the D’Oyly Carte recordings all go. But my Kalmus score makes the orchestra agree with the rhythm of the singers. I wish I knew where the discrepancy came from. All signs seem to point to the version with two simultaneous different rhythms being the ‘authentic’ one. But it also seems wrong, or at the very least laziness on Sullivan’s part. The opening and closing ritornello have the ‘wrong’ rhythm, and the vocal version a measure before the first ending is the only way the lyric would sound. If you have an answer, please let me know in the comment field. Should you need more exit music, you can double back from the end of the penultimate measure to the second ending for one further pass at the last 8 measures.

6. Am I Alone and Unobserved?

This piece is so enjoyable that one is liable to miss the central stylistic game Sullivan is playing. The mock grand-opera opening with its trills and slashing tutti chords makes Bunthorne out to be a really powerful character, but his true self is revealed in the frankly mincing Allegretto grazioso in which he lays out his scheme. It’s also the first time anyone’s been onstage by themselves yet, and it’s been half an hour.

You will want to tell your orchestra whether you are going to indicate the empty downbeat of the Allegretto or whether you’re going to just give the upbeat. (I recommend the former) The figure 4 before A is best articulated with stacatto on the eighths, and a real marcato-tenuto on all the quarters. The tutti brass hits after A are some of the only strong brass writing in the show, so show them off with a strong, short attack! The piano reduction of the 4th and 8th measures after A masks the staccato brass ictus at the top of the sustained woodwind chord, which is an old trick, but a very good one indeed!The string passage 2 measures before letter B is piano, but shoot for a full sound and a little poco rit. to inaugurate the recitative passage.

If you don’t have a lot of experience conducting orchestras in this kind of music, a word of advice: In passages like the one immediately before the 2/4 key change, give a dead beat 5 times to the orchestra so they know where you are, once on the downbeat and then 4 more times at the dotted measure lines. In the Chappell score these dotted measure lines are full measures. Beating the downbeats of the empty measures helps the orchestra keep their place even as the singer is taking things freely.

The first two times Bunthorne goes through the Allegretto, there is no rit. at the end. The final time, the rit. starts at “pure young man…”, as indicated in the score. The Kalmus full score, though, says to go back to A tempo when he sings “be.”, then another rit. 2 measures later, the third measure from the end. I found that to be very effective.patience 6


The first time I did Patience, (as a cast member) I didn’t make any connection with The Music Man, but this time around, I kept thinking of it. The Delsarte ladies of River City are the biggest point of reference for American audiences, and oddly enough, they do provide a strange point of connection between the two pieces. François Delsarte was famous for his teaching in singing and declamation. He invented a popular system that was brought to the United States by his pupil, Steele MacKaye. In MacKaye’s hands, the Delsarte Method became more about movement and pose, and his version of Delsarte became a very popular activity as a kind of proto-yoga in the 19th century. When Richard D’Oyly Carte sent Oscar Wilde on the his American tour (in part to promote Patience and give context to the Americans who were to watch it on tour), Wilde met MacKaye, and prolonged his stay in America partly to spend more time with him. (some of these details come from a chapter entitled Under the Sign of Wilde by Moe Meyer) Ultimately Wilde would turn to other sources of inspiration to complete the development of his external persona, but the feeling one gets watching a traditionally staged Patience that one is seeing Eulailie Shinn and her ladies is actually very precisely placed. By the time The Music Man is written, the Delsarte movement represents all that is old and mannered, and the River City Ladies are the lovesick maidens of patience, transplanted to America.

If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to take the comparison just one further step:

This hilarious scene between numbers 6 and 7 in Patience made me think of the brief ‘in 1’ scene after ‘Trouble‘. That scene is only 4 lines long, just enough time for Harold to chase Marian across the stage and be rebuffed: “I’ll only be in town a short while…” “Good!” Following that scene, Marian enters Mrs. Paroo’s house, where Mrs. Paroo tries in vain to encourage her relationship with this strange man. At the end of that scene, Marian sings ‘Goodnight my Someone‘, and we see that she does actually want a relationship.

That passage in The Music Man and this section of Patience happen early in their respective shows. Both begin with a flim-flam artist who is conning most of the people in a small town amusingly. Both shows then have the con artist comically attempting to woo the one woman in town who doesn’t return their affection, women who are in both cases totally bewildering to all the other women in town. Both are rejected amusingly. Patience says: “I am quite certain that, under any circumstances, I couldn’t possibly love you.” Bunthorne: “Oh, you think not?”
Patience: “I’m quite sure of it. Quite sure, Quite.” In both sequences, the young lady is counseled about the joys of love by an older woman, and in the close of each sequence, the young woman agrees that under the right circumstances, love is a great idea.

In Victorian England, the flim flam artist needs poetry and intellectual artifice to bamboozle the ladies.

In 1912 in The Music Man‘s  America, the con artist appeals to their irrational cultural fears.

In England, the heroine longs for the simplicity of an unaffected childhood romance.

In America, the heroine wants someone who has read a book.

7. Long Years Ago, Fourteen Maybe

At one point, this lovely duet had a second verse, which is included in one or another of these books I’ve recommended, but I couldn’t figure out how the text sat atop the notes. It doesn’t really need another verse at any rate, and the first act is really a model of economy without it.

One thing you need to do as music director is decide for yourself whether it’ll be lit..tle or li…ttle whenever it happens. Probably it should be the same each time, I venture to suggest? The Kalmus full score contains no crescendi or decrescendi, but the vocal score does, and it’s an absolutely delightful effect, with pizzicato strings and pairs of winds tapering in and out. At rehearsal C, I picked up the tempo slightly. If you choose to do that, it’s the bassoon and pizz. cello that lead that charge, in that rising scale that reminds one so much of Madamina, Il Catalogo E Questo…

Before letter E, the vocal score has a lovely anticipation in the voice parts which isn’t reflected in the full score at all. My flutes had the anticipation in their part, but the clarinets didn’t. You’ll have to sort that out on your own, I’m not sure I can say with any kind of authority what’s right there. At the very end, I liked to de-emphasize that last note, so that it ends on a very dainty downbeat.

8. Prithee Pretty Maiden

This little duet somehow manages to be both fusty and fresh at the same time. Its charm lies in its simplicity and delicacy, and the folk tune quality of its nonsense ‘willow-waly-os’. As I try to put myself in the position of the original audience, I imagine there was some comedy in hearing this quaint old fashioned tune sung in this preposterous situation. Try to catch the feeling in the orchestra of a very old fashioned string quartet playing as daintily as possible, and make the most of the rallentandos at the end of each verse.

Also, you kinda need to see this:

(thanks, Aaron Manthey)

8a. Though To Marry You Would Very Selfish Be

My only advice to you is not to let yourself get caught up in the hilarious dialogue so much that you miss your cue to start the reprise.

9. Let The Merry Cymbals Sound (Act I FInale)

Much to say about this very long and beautifully constructed Finale.

Let’s start with the opening instrumental passage. We had our ladies coming in from the back of the house in our production, and to facilitate that, we built in a repeat from measure 4-13. The repeat itself worked beautifully, except that in the orchestral parts, that repeat turned out to be embedded in an even longer repeat, which is only in the parts and not in any of the scores I had. Be aware of that should you choose to do anything similar. I didn’t write it down, but it looks as though the repeat for the players runs from measure 3 to 21 or thereabouts, with some players playing only the second time. If I had to guess, I’d say that Sullivan added the vocal parts after having completed the instrumental part earlier. There are some awfully awkward phrase lengths in the vocal parts that seem forced; the blank measure after the first “Bunthorne’s bride” for example. Normally I do try and enforce Sullivan’s cutoffs, but this opening choral section has a place I gave up on. The phrases ending in “sound” and “bound” end on an eighth, not a quarter, but try as I might, they’d always ended up on the third beat. I don’t think anything is gained by beating everyone up over that half a beat, and I wasn’t able to locate any recording that successfully accomplished it either. Don’t waste your time, just let everyone put a crisp ‘d’ on beat three and be done with it. At letter C, the Kalmus full score has the first violins pizzicato and the second arco. I’m pretty sure that’s an error.

Another odd feature of this passage, which may indicate some trouble in the writing, is that the lyric clearly indicates cymbals, but Sullivan rather perversely doesn’t include them in his orchestration. The stage direction indicates that Jane has a very large pair of cymbals, but doesn’t tell her where to play them. That part of the stage direction is not in the earliest edition of the piano vocal, so I suspect it may be a solution arrived at in production that was later codified. I wonder if perhaps this music was recovered from some prior piece, or if a new lyric was supplied in place of an older one that didn’t mention these instruments. As long as you’re going to have these cymbals banging around to music in which it doesn’t really belong, you might as well have a lot of fun with it, and play them loudly at all the wrong places. That’s very funny.

When the Dragoons enter, be sure to note the difference between the ‘done’ that happens 3 measures before letter E and the ‘done‘ that happens 1 measure before E and then later immediately before F. Some performance practice has evidently arisen around the first “Oh, poet, how say you, What is it you’ve done?”, in which “you have” is substituted. The Kalmus full score has this change, but the vocal scores don’t. You’ll have to decide which you prefer. Watch the “Oh, horror!” around the 5th measure of G. The octave jump in the tenors is actually somewhat precipitous, and it can turn into just a shout if you’re not careful. “Curse” a few measures later also should have a strong opening consonant, but should really still be a pitch and not just a shout.

The “Stay, we implore you” section is very dramatic and exciting, and the 2 measure phrases starting the 9th measure of the allegro should lean into the ‘-plore’ and then back out again. Note that the vocal parts and the accompaniment at “to us you’re plighted” has dropped down to a piano (indicated in the full score, but not in the vocal score), and then builds to the final 4 measures of the phrase. If you’re using an older Schirmer score, this is where the missing measures in the accompaniment go: Patience page 81 . The string chords sit a little funny under the vocal part, you should use the accompaniment from the beginning so they can become accustomed to it.

Then the Duke has a lovely solo. Note that the big forte chords in the 9th and 17th measures of the Andante will be played by pizzicato strings, which will not sound at all the same as a piano playing that chord. Something odd happens before the chorus comes in on their echoing phrase. All the Piano Vocal Scores and the Full score I consulted have the orchestra coming in a half a beat earlier than the singers on their notes, on beat three of the measure, right before they sing “Our Soldiers” or “We Soldiers” as the case may be. The parts, however, indicated an upbeat eighth note only. I wonder whether some early cast needed help finding the notes, or perhaps the choral note was shortened, but it’s an odd disconnect. I chose to use the parts as written, with the eighth note pickup. Let your Duke luxuriate in that high A flat, and give the real Irish tenor treatment to the drop to C flat. Get your chorus used to cutting off before the fermata and leaving a space for the solo. Then, show the chorus that the orchestra plays their chord before they sing “all weep” at the end of the section. Show them what that cue will look like. In upbeat tutti chords with fermatas, I like to put a little crescendo in to give energy to the phrase. “All” would be a great place to do that.

Bunthorne’s next passage contains the word ‘avidity‘ twice. A mistake I believe was corrected at some point with a ‘rapidity‘, but I can’t remember which one was replaced. The ladies patter through that next section needs a gentle reminder not to let the ‘ee’ vowel get too bright on the top notes of the phrase. Also an ‘up-and-over’ placement will work well here.

Don’t let the Vivace drag. The dance at M needs to be a little Jig. Before your letter N, the Kalmus score is missing some cues in the woodwinds. Check that.

If, like me, you get rather fixated on note details and miss the obvious, I’d like to point out that your ladies will be blindfolded at letter N and are unlikely to see your beautiful cues. They are likely to drag without your prodding, so insist they keep that pulse even in your absence. Gilbert would return to the blindfolding 8 years later in The Gondoliers, in another similar scenario, but that time only two singers are blindfolded, not the entire women’s ensemble.

Anyone who has seen a G&S finale knows we’re due for something like what happens at Q. Faster and more thrilling is always better for a spot like this. Work through “…pray you make a clearance”  to keep the placement open and not too chesty as you head up the scale. I found it best to beat this whole section in a fast 4, so I could keep pushing the thing forward. In 2, it’s hard to articulate your insistence on speed. The tempo relaxes somewhat at the end of Patience’s solo, but at S, you must again insist on speed, and bring out that beautiful Tenor counter melody in the 5th measure. At letter T, I switched into beating in 2. (be sure your orchestra knows when you’re going to switch it up like that.) At the second bar of U, tell the strings you’d like a big, full sound there, and the most round, rich chord at the 4th measure of U that they can give you. Give the clarinet his head at his big solo one before B. My clarinetist gave me a good reminder at our sitzprobe to ‘invite’ the cadenza with a gentle gesture of the hand, not a strong cue like you might otherwise give. I like that cadenza to have a lot of rhythmic flexibility, sometimes rocketing around, sometimes lingering on a note here and there.

The tempo of rehearsal letter V depends on the beauty of the singing. We were fortunate to have some exquisite singing from our Patience, so I took my time. Tell your Dragoons to sing the last note of their phrase as short as possible.

Sullivan’s growing mastery of larger scale form can be noted in the way he uses the beautiful passage with which he opens this new section at the Andante Con Moto. Following the Madrigal, he will use this material with very subtle changes to transition into the final portion. The orchestration at each of these points is just right. Sullivan is not often a wild innovator, but that’s an overrated quality in a composer. He writes things that work, that always work, and that’s something to be envied.

“I hear the soft note” is one of the very best Sullivan madrigals, and like the others, it presents some problems for the music director, the singers, and the audio people.

1) It’s a small thing, but the vocal scores identify the singers for each staff once and then never again. Go through your score before the first rehearsal and mark with initials who is singing what to save yourself a lot of confusion figuring out who is singing what.

2) Balance is very very important. If your singers are miked, it’s critical to pay close attention all through this passage that no one voice is jumping out of the texture. You should work this a little bit in rehearsal, but again, if you’re using sound reinforcement, don’t waste too much time finessing it until the sound crew is there to be a part of the discussion

3) Sullivan gives you some dynamics, but there’s a lot of leeway about how to make your way through it. The key is for all the singers to be on the same page. The same goes for breathing and cutoffs.

4) When the chorus comes in after letter B, be sure they come in at a true piano, perhaps even a pianissimo, so the principals can still be heard and so that they have some place to go dynamically. At the end, in the first fermata, I again give a very slight crescendo into the downbeat to give direction to the phrase, and to improve breath support.

If you are having trouble keeping intonation, or if you just want a little reinforcement, use the optional orchestral parts. And then I recommend you leave a big space before letter D just in case you’ve gone out of tune. The chorus entrance before F should have a hushed, spooky tone quality, full of ominous portent.

Following rehearsal letter F, Sullivan takes the music in an awfully German direction, very chromatic, (he hits 11 of the 12 pitches in the first 8 measures) and the Vivace passage is full of gestures from the German Early Romantic Style. This new music makes what we heard earlier seem rather banal and somewhat quaint. That transition into Grosvenor’s line after F is a little odd, and may require thought. There’s an awkward measure of nothing before he comes in, and he may want to jump the gun. My full score indicates cut time in the measure Grosvenor sings “mind’s“, which works well, but I recommend dropping back into 4 at letter G, for ease of cueing. Note also the Forzando in the second violins 4 before G.

Sullivan seems to enjoy putting tritones in the ladies melodies, but he’s a gentleman, so they normally happen only in the first act finales, and trace chord tones in dominant or diminished harmonies. And you have to admit: “We LOVE YOU!” on a tritone is rather ingeneous. It motivates the horror of the next 10 measures well. In the “They Love Him, Horror!” section, Sullivan employs a full brass sound that is uncharacteristic to the rest of the piece.

The closing Allegro Agitato is the second potential train wreck of Patience. We’ll get to that shortly. Don’t let the tempo change into the new section worry you. Close examination reveals that the tempo has not, in fact, changed. Quarters equal 160 on both sides of the double bar. Be clear about where the consonants go in the chorus’s bisected words and don’t let them get lazy. All those rests are really important. Have a plan to get out of the fermata.

The dangerous curve that may result in a wreck happens at Rehearsal L, where the Dragoons resort to their “ridiculous” octaves again, this time completely unsupported by anyone in the orchestra. Sopranos have one of Sullivan’s trademark descending chromatic lines that occasionally turn suddenly diatonic. These are the bane of the amateur chorus soprano’s existence. Just as before, you should cater your whole scheme to the speed of the Dragoons and strictly enforce everyone else’s adherence to your beat. They should not trust their ears, particularly since if your director is any good, people will be running every which way or piling on top of each other at this point. Impress upon your chorus the importance of making the word “woes” extremely short, and make clear where you’d like everyone to cut off that last note. Again, they will probably be occupied running off the stage and will be unable to see your cue. A slight rit. to emphasize the last few chords is apropos.

After Act I, I recommend a glass of water for Maestro, and sitting in a stool off stage right thinking about nothing at all.

10. On Such Eyes as Maidens Cherish

The first act of Patience begins with a long sequence and ends with another, and sandwiched in-between are a goofy scena and two sentimental tunes. The second act is one tune after another, runs at a great pace, and ends quickly and satisfyingly. If you are a playwright or musical theatre writer, watch and learn. This is how it’s done.

This opening is not in the earliest vocal score. The Kalmus Full score has an error in the flutes in the last note of measure 4. It should be an F, as in the oboe.  I inserted a breath between “cherish” and “let” to avoid the clumsy “shlet“, and carried without breath between “gaze” and “or“. Because the ladies sing this part of the tune twice as often, they will likely recall these words and not the rest of the tune later. They will also likely want to come in early here. Bring out the cello echo of “Ah Miserie” 4 measures from the end.

11. Sad Is That Woman’s Lot

Jane traditionally plays the cello or double bass in this, 90 years or so before Henrik in A Little Night Music. It could also be comically done on some other low instrument if your player actually played the bassoon or the Tuba. It is probably best to mime playing it while the orchestra provides the real sound.

Sullivan is playing in the same sandbox as Beethoven did in the last movement of his 9th symphony. The idea is surely that Jane is a formidable woman, worthy of the stentorian musical treatment normally reserved for great profundity. I also thought I heard the Mozart Requiem in there, but realized I was actually remembering the Bass line of the Quare Fremuerent Gentes movement of the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio. The bass/cello line is pretty commonplace recitativo style writing, probably there are other parallels, both intentional and unintentional.

Modern critics aren’t very kind to this number, because it’s frankly mean and a tiny bit misogynist. It’s also hilarious, very precisely in character, and has a lovely tune that Sullivan later reused as a parlor song with another lyric. The orchestral parts we used were missing the flute line three measures before the first ending.

12. Turn, O Turn In This Direction

See notes for 10.

Grosvenor’s poems here are hilarious. I love that marrying a dancer is the retribution for Teasing Tom.

patience 5

13. A Magnet Hung In A Hardware Shop

This is one of Gilbert’s punniest lyrics. It’s so dense with puns that they don’t all land on the audience’s ear. Clear diction is, of course, a must.

Musically, take care with the leaps, particularly “From needles and nails and knives he’d turn” Not only is the melody jumpy, the rhythm is a little counter-intuitive. Ditto for “Hither and thither began to roam”

Make sure the ladies cut off the last note of their echoing phrases quickly. I let the altos drop down for the F and the E flat on their final echoing phrase in each verse.

The orchestra part isn’t particularly hard, but insist that the flutes, clarinets and violins keep those 32nd notes in time, and not to relax them into a triplet.

The scene that follows here is so funny that people are liable to miss the beginning of Jane’s a cappella version of “In a doleful train” through their laughter. “One and One I walk all day.” Hilarious.Patience_Bunthorne_and_Jane

14. Love Is A Plaintive Song

I know this is just a silly song, but I think it’s shockingly beautiful. I don’t recall which recording does this, but one version gave a little emphasis in the orchestra to the first note of each measure, then tapering off. I liked that a lot. This number presents a slight conducting challenge, because the 6/8 meter slows in places to the point where you need to articulate eighth notes, and you have to find a way to artfully subdivide the 2 beat pattern without dropping all the way into a 6 beat pattern, which would belabor things and lose the spirit of the piece. I am a sucker for connecting fermatas without breath to downbeats, and our Patience and I connected the fermata in the second verse without breath to the A tempo. We also made a beautiful ossia cadenza at the end of the second verse that I won’t share with you. It was one of my favorite moments of the show, and embodies the essence of G&S to me; the silliest possible things sung in the most beautiful possible way.

“Why me?”

15. So Go To Him And Say To Him

This is the biggest earworm of the show. You may find your singers trying to match the instrumental melody in measure 52: “that’s what you should say”, but the vocal line changes course earlier than the accompaniment. I think the drop to pianissimo and subsequent crescendo effect we heard in the overture still applies, but isn’t necessarily for the singers. (it isn’t marked for the singers and works well the other way)

If you’d like to go back and do an encore, you can cue the orchestra back at the pickup to measure 33. You will need to give the oboe and bassoon the remainder of the melody, for which currently they only have the beginning.

In traditional D’Oyly Carte productions, Jane would carry Bunthorne off the stage.

16. It’s Clear That Medieval Art

This one’s a comic slam dunk. Everybody loves watching military guys being goofy, from here to South Pacific and beyond. But musically, it has some tricky moments, I’ll grant you.

1) You’ll want those sixteenths very very short. Err on the side of making them too short, rather than turning them into triplets. I have to say, I think the eighth note pickup to the first vocal entrance is laziness on Sullivan’s part, and I turned them into sixteenths. Someone will disagree, and if you want to make that an eighth, you’ll need to drill it in from the very beginning.

2) The style is generally very clipped and short, until “But, as far as we can judge…” which is the only legato phrase in the piece.

3) To my ear, the three part harmony is not especially difficult, except at “By hook and crook, you try to look both angular and flat”. The middle part is hard to hear, particularly at the end, when it goes from the A to the G#. It would be a good idea to run that slowly for a while until you lock in the tuning.

4) You’ll want to get the three part harmony very strongly in the ears and voices of your singers before you block the number, because all the various physical contortions will tend to lower the amount of brainpower necessary to tune the thing.

I made the last 4 measures louder in the orchestra for the final pass to bring a strong conclusion to the piece. you hold yourself

17.If Saphir I Choose To Marry

This is another fantastic tune. Sadly for the Duke, it has three very similar verses that must be remembered with accuracy to justify the blocking that will likely follow. The lyric pairs the groups up after all, in a matrimonial math mixup which is a kind of dry run for Here is A Case Unprecedented in The Gondoliers, in which each lady is divisible by three, each man by two. Again, we need to be sure the woodwinds play the sixteenths very short, and don’t let them devolve into triplets. The major’s part, jumping in to the 7th of the chord may prove tricky at first, and poor Angela is singing one of Sullivan’s cruel tritones, again tracing the third and the 7th of the chord, while Saphir sings an exotic 9th. Dynamics and diction really make the chorus pop, and there is a great staging effect of one person left alone among other couples that wouldn’t be equaled until Side by Side in Sondheim’s Company 89 years later.

The figure at B has a funny articulation problem that’s probably just my own bugaboo. The flutes and oboes have a tied note in the melody, while the rest of the winds are repeating notes, which sounds ragged to me. It’s what he clearly wants, though, and I can’t think of a way around it. The jaunty off-beat figure in the flutes, clarinets, and pizzicato strings is a true stroke of genius, and a really creative musical idea. Relish it whenever it happens.

What do we make of this Sympathee/Sympatheye business? David Bamberger seems to get to the bottom of it with this essay. It helped me to note that in the finale in both versions of the vocal score, the second syllable of Lily is italicized. This is not the case in the original Quintet. So I would say Sympathee in the Quintet and Li-lye in the Finale. But you may find your own solution.

 Oh, and as always, walk into the first rehearsal knowing how you plan to get out of the fermata with your conducting pattern.

Passmore_and_Lytton_as_Bunthorne_and_Grosvenor_1900_Patience_opera“Or may a nephew’s curse…”

SIDEBAR: What is it with Aunts in Patience?

Aunts are everything in Patience. Mothers, not so much.

    Patience: I have never loved, but my great Aunt.


    Angela: Is it possible that you have never loved anybody?

    Patience: Yes, one.

    Angela: Ah, whom?

    Patience: My great-aunt.

    Angela: Great Aunts don’t count.

And it isn’t just Patience, because in the scene before #18:

    Grosvenor: Reflect! Reflect. You had a mother once!

    Bunthorne: Never!

    Grosvenor: Then you had an aunt! (Bunthorne is affected.) Ah! I see you had! By the memory of that Aunt, I implore you…

It’s true that Gilbert sloppily goes over the same territory multiple times in some of these book scenes, but what a stroke of inspired lunacy this Aunt business is!

18. When I Go Out Of Door

In your vocal score this looks like an 8 page number. In the full score, it is only 14 measures long: 4 measures of intro, 8 measures repeated 12 times, and a second ending. Your poor violist will play nothing but D over and over for exactly 100 measures, then a couple of chords to cap it off! My orchestral parts split it up into smaller sets of repeats, which made the encore we inserted somewhat confusing to figure out, but it’s easy to get lost in the sea of circling identical broken chords.

The words are difficult to memorize, and some passages very difficult to articulate. If you get off, it’s also a real bear to get back on again. Your pair of poets may need to go over and over it again to get it right.

If you choose to build in an encore, I think you should do it faster, and a second encore should go yet faster still.

19. I’m A Waterloo House Young Man

If the ladies properly silence the ‘r’ in ‘Swears’ and ‘girls’, and trip or flip it in ‘cheerily‘, ‘chattering‘ and ‘everyday‘, the whole passage will move along more easily.

19½ . Fanfare

The parts we used did not have a snare roll. Sounds better with one. At one point there was a Recit and Song for the Duke here, but without it, the second act finishes as tight as a drum!

20. After Much Debate Internal (Act II Finale)

The second act finale offers no new challenges. Be sure your chorus comes in at a true piano, so that the forte at C is a great surprise. Again, a slight allargando is in order at the end, to bring home the conclusion.

Your Pit Orchestra:

I often counsel music directors not to hire all the players, but with G&S, you’re dealing with a true orchestral color. I think you need to make a decision about whether you’re using a piano. If you’re not, you need to either use the complete original orchestrations. Unfortunately they’re not at IMSLP as of this writing but you can get them in a couple of places: here, or here, for example.

Or you need to rent a Newby Reduction:


If you’re using a piano, then you’ve already decided you’re not going for the true orchestral palette of sounds. In that case, I would add to the piano, in this order:

Violin 1

Violin 2




Flute 1


Clarinet 1


Cornet 1 (or trumpet)




In truth, it’s far more complicated than that, because after you reach a certain point with the winds, you need to start doubling up the strings, and you need to balance those properly. I don’t have space to go into the acoustics of that. Suffice it to say that the Violins, the flute, clarinet, trumpet, and oboe provide much needed color, the cello and bass provide body to the sound, and everyone else gets you closer to the ideal; the orchestral sound. After all, this isn’t piano based music; you’re dealing with an operetta here. Better that you do G&S than that you ignore it, but do try and do it properly if at all possible, with Sullivan’s magnificent orchestration in full color!

Have fun with your production of Patience! I will be including more G&S as I music direct them!

One comment

  1. […] I will bring you information about the other Schirmer G&S editor, Edmond W. Rickett, who edited Patience, Ruddigore, Yeomen, and The Gondoliers. Like Treharne, he was born in the UK and emigrated to the […]

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